Reading and the Reference Librarian

The Importance to Library Service of Staff Reading Habits


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About the Book

Reference librarians are no longer expected to know much about the information they find; they are merely expected to find it. Technological competency rather than knowledge has become the order of the day. In many respects, reference service has become a matter of typing search terms into a library’s online catalog or a web search engine and providing the patron with the results of the search. Calling for a re-intellectualization of reference librarianship, this book suggests another approach to providing quality reference service—reading.
The authors surveyed both academic reference librarians and public library reference personnel in the United States and Canada about their reading habits. From the 950 responses, the authors present findings about the extent to which librarians read newspapers, periodicals, fiction and nonfiction, and recount and analyze stories about how reading has made them better librarians. The authors also report that North American professors in the humanities and social sciences believe that the best reference librarians are those who have wide-ranging, subject-based knowledge as opposed to the type of process-based, functional knowledge that is increasingly dominating the curricula of many Library and Information Science programs.

About the Author(s)

Juris Dilevko is a retired associate professor from the University of Toronto. In addition to his books about librarianship, his writings have appeared in American Studies, Journal of Information Ethics, Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, Library Quarterly, and Reference & User Services Quarterly, among other publications.
Lisa Gottlieb is a graduate of Wellesley College, the University of Chicago, and the University of Toronto. Her articles have appeared in the Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, American Studies, Library Quarterly, and other journals.

Bibliographic Details

Juris Dilevko and Lisa Gottlieb
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 269
Bibliographic Info: tables, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2004
pISBN: 978-0-7864-1652-3
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8045-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface      1


1. Ideology and the Deprofessionalization of the Reference Function      7

2. Reading and Reference Work      21


3. The Importance of Being Current      31

4. Developing a “Reader’s Mind”      73

5. You Can Lead Librarians to Knowledge, But You Can’t Make Them Think      115


6. Being a Jack-of-All-Trades      137


7. Meeting the Expectations of Professors      173

8. Reading as a Species of Intellectual Capital      209


A. Methodological Notes and Text of Survey Questions Sent to Academic Reference Librarians      223

B. Methodological Notes and Text of Survey Questions Sent to Public Library Reference Staff Members      229

C. Methodological Notes and Text of Survey Questions Sent to Professors in the Humanities and Social Sciences      235

D. Statistical Analyses of Selected Variables from the Survey Sent to Academic Reference Librarians      239

Notes      247

Bibliography      255

Index      261

Book Reviews & Awards

“a thoughtful and critically informative look”—Midwest Book Review; “interesting and important. This book is a page turner”—Catholic Library World; “detailed…required reading…valuable…extensive body of very detailed information…outstanding”—LISR: Science Direct; “thought-provoking…informative…authors’ solid, sensitive research and revelant treatment of its subject qualifies this book as an important new primary resource…the rigor of the authors’ scholarship is evident”—Colorado Libraries; “one of the most remarkable and thought provoking texts on reference librarianship to have been published in the past few years…well done…articulate and insightful…fascinating…interesting…important and worthwhile”—Library & Information Science Research.